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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Bonnie E. Cone, January 7, 1986. Interview C-0048. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Charlotte College becomes UNC-Charlotte

Cone discusses how she was not appointed as the chancellor of Charlotte College after it became a branch campus for the University of North Carolina. Although she had been temporarily appointed as the acting chancellor when the merge initially occurred, the position was not made permanent for Cone. Some of her colleagues in getting a university in Charlotte had suggested that Cone was overlooked for the position because she was a woman. Cone, however, argues that this was not the case and that the chancellor position was not what she had aspired to achieve. Rather, she had seen it as her duty to help the community get a much-needed facility for higher education.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Bonnie E. Cone, January 7, 1986. Interview C-0048. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

LYNN HAESSLY:
When the campus then finally did become part of the University system, you were made acting chancellor but you weren't appointed to be the chancellor after that. Why do you think that was?
BONNIE E. CONE:
You now, I went out to try to help get an institution. I was not working to get a position.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Why?
BONNIE E. CONE:
I had no reason to work to get a position for me. I know other people that felt very differently about it. They felt that this was very bad, you know, some did, and some felt that it was right. But it wasn't for a position. I was working to get an institution to serve the people who were not being served. I felt that I had accomplished what I set out to do. The rest of it was okay with me.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Now, I've heard people say you were not made chancellor because you were a woman. I've read a comment from one of the professors here, John Robins, who thinks that Bill Friday didn't want you to be chancellor because you were too powerful.
BONNIE E. CONE:
I didn't know that.
LYNN HAESSLY:
That was in Dr. 's book.
BONNIE E. CONE:
Is that right?
LYNN HAESSLY:
Do you think there is any truth in either of those?
BONNIE E. CONE:
Oh, I don't think so. And really, you know, I was a novice at all these things, and we had worked as hard as we could work to get what we felt the community and the state needed to have here. I felt that we had succeeded and these other things-that's certainly not what I was working for. I think we succeeded in what we went out to do. And I feel it was tremendous. I'm happy about what happened. I did the best job I could do, and I think I was able to get some of the most wonderful people, so many people who came. I still, Lynn, find myself saying they are my men. You know, this is my man.is my man, is my man, you know. Because I was able to bring them. We did not have the powerful committees that could go out and find. I had to do a lot of the hunting for personnel myself. You say, "How did you know how to do it?" It was just, I don't know, it was just, you have some ideas of what you feel you need in a person if he's going to be responsible for teaching chemistry in this institution, or religious studies, or whatever, or to be in charge of the health center. These are things where you just did the best job you could do. And I know we were always very careful not just to take what people wrote about people. We always had to find out what people said about people because there were things we needed to know that they would not put in writing. We tried to be very careful. We couldn't make mistakes in choosing personnel because that could just be devastating. We had to do the very best job we could. Sure, I wasn't prepared to do this actually. I had not come up in the pattern that you normally come up to do any of those early things. You just didn't stop along the way and say, "You know, I'm not equipped to do this." You just went ahead and used your best judgments and used the best wisdom that you had to try to do the job that you felt had to be done. Then the rest is okay because you weren't going out and building a position for you, for me, you know.